Pongal – The Harvest Festival & Rituals in Tamil Nadu
The Tamil Nadu people and few of the other states in India celebrate the harvest festival as Pongal on January month of every year. This is a four day festival where the people follow many rituals and ancient customs. The Pongal is celebrated as the harvest festival. Every year the Pongal festival is celebrated between January 14 to 17. Each day different festivals are celebrated. They are:
January 14 - Bhogi
January 15 – Surya Pongal
January 16 – Mattu Pongal
January 17 – Kaanum Pongal
Rituals on Pongal
The Bhogi festival is celebrated on the first day of the Pongal. On this Bhogi festival the people burn their old things. The people mostly burn their old clothes and unwanted things in the house. After burning all the unwanted things in the house the people clean their house and wash it. After cleaning their house they beautify it with colour powders. This activity of burning the old goods and cleaning the house indicates the people get rid of their old worries and difficulties and enter into a new fresh life. With fresh hope they welcome the Tamil New Year. As Lord Indra saved the people from rain and thunder on this day, people worship and praise Lord Indra on Bhogi festival.
Surya Pongal is the second day celebration of the Pongal festival. This day could be rightly called as the Pongal as they people make Pongal (A sweet dish) made by the people. On this day they cook the new rice that was cultivated on that year and make Pongal. They also add milk and sugar. While cooking when the pot over flows the people will start shouting “Pongallo Pongal". Then the rice is sacrificed to Sun God and shared among the relatives.
The Maattu Pongal which means celebration for the cattle especially cow. The people thank their cow and bull for helping them in farming. On this occasion they decorate the cow and bull with flowers and colours the horns. Nice food items are given to them on this day. Bull is rightly can be called as the friend of the farmer as it helps in cultivation of crops. New bells are tied on their neck.
The Kaanum Pongal is celebrated on the fourth and the final day of the Pongal festival. In Tami the meaning of the word “Kaanuthal" which means meeting. On this special day the people meet their friends and wish their happiness with one another. The people goes for even small house picnic and enjoys the day with family and friends.
History of Pongal Festival
There are two legends about the history of the pongal festival in Tamilnadu. Once Lord Shiva sent his Nandhi (bull) to visit the human beings on earth and convey a message to them. Lord Shiva commanded his Nandhi to inform the human beings that they should take oil bath everyday and eat only once in a month. As the bull Nandhi was confused, came to earth and informed the people that they should eat everyday and take oil bath only once a month. This made Lord Shiva angry and he then ordered Nandhi to remain in earth and look after the human beings in cultivating more crops for their everyday meal. So the people started celebrating the Harvest festival as Pongal.
The another legend says that once Lord Indra had sent a great thunder and rain on the earth to destroy the people. When the people suffered from the severe rain and thunder the people prayed to Lord Krishna and hence Lord Krishna came n their rescue and lifted the Govaradan hill on his little finger and saved the villagers and their cattle from the great thunder and rain. This incident occurred on Bhogi. So people in commemoration of their redemption celebrate the Bhogi festival. In you have time look out for Tamilnadu festival recipes in our site.